Frequently asked questions regarding relocation and consent when it comes to minor children

Relocation with minor child from South Africa

Frequently asked questions regarding relocation and consent when it comes to minor children

Relocation – Are you planning on relocating to another country or moving to a different province within South Africa with your minor child? Are you concerned about the issue of consent from the other parent? Below are some frequently asked, and related questions on the topic. We would encourage you to post and answer some of the questions, or just leave a comment.


Parents often decide to relocate with their minor children. However, they do not always understand the legal requirements and implications involved. For example, can they just leave the country with the minor child or do they require the other parents’ consent? Furthermore, if consent is required and refused; what are the remedies available to that parent? With regard to the issue of moving from one province to another, unless a court order stipulates otherwise, consent is not required. However, the relocation from one province to another could have an effect on existing parental responsibilities and rights. Under these circumstances, a variation of the court order would be warranted.

There are therefore also other issues involved when it comes to relocation. For example, what contact would the other parent who remains in South Africa have to the minor children after relocation? The aforementioned questions and a range of other related questions may be posed and answered below. Feel free to post your question should this blog post not have answered it.

Can I move from South Africa to the United Kingdom with my child without the father’s permission?

If the father has parental responsibilities and rights of guardianship, his consent is required for the relocation to the United Kingdom. For example, if the father and the mother were married, then under those circumstances unless an order of court determines otherwise, the father’s consent is required. If the father was not married to the mother, but in a long term relationship when the child was born, and involved in the child’s life after birth, then his consent under the circumstances would also be required.

What do I do if the father refuses to consent to relocate to Germany?

advice-child-maintenance-child-custody-divorceIf a parent refuses to provide the necessary consent for relocation to another country, in this case, Germany, then the Court must be approached. Basically, you would ask the court to dispense with the requirement of the father’s consent. The court would determine the case based on what is best for the minor children involved.

What type of care and contact would the other parent exercise if I relocate to Saudi Arabia?

In this digital age, there is no reason why a parent cannot have regular contact to his or her child if they live in different countries. Usually, contact would take place via Skype, WhatsApp, FaceTime, or other digital means. Email and other messaging services are also effective. When the children returns for holidays or the parent visits them overseas, then contact should be reasonable. For example, a few days with the non-custodial parent.

May I relocate with my child to Canada or the United States?

advice-child-maintenance-child-custody-divorceYou may relocate with your minor child to Canada, the United States, or to any other country if you have the father’s consent. However, consent is not always required if the father does not have guardianship rights. If you were married to the father or he was involved in the child’s life, by visiting and paying maintenance, then his consent would be required.

My child does not have a passport. Do I require the father’s consent to obtain one?

In terms of the Children’s Act, if a father has parental responsibilities and rights of Guardianship, his consent is required for the minor child’s application for a passport. If the father’s name is on the birth certificate, more than likely the Department of Home Affairs would insist on having his consent.

Can a mother move a child away from the father?

Under normal circumstances, a mother cannot move a child away from the father. However, if it is in the child’s best interest, it will be allowed. It is best to obtain a court order dealing with the parties’ parental responsibilities and rights under the circumstances. Alternatively, a social worker or childcare expert should have advised the mother that that would be in the child’s best interest.

When can a child legally decide which parent to live with?

In South Africa, a child is no longer under the guardianship of a parent when he or she turns 18 (eighteen) years old. Therefore when the child turns 18 (eighteen) years old, he or she can decide where he wants to stay, and with whom he wants to stay. The same applies in the case of the relocation. The father’s consent would not be required should the minor child decide to relocate to another country with a mother. The opposite also applies.

Can I get a passport for my child without the father’s consent?

advice-child-maintenance-child-custody-divorceIn terms of South African law, both guardians’ consent is required for a child applying for a passport. Therefore, if the father is a holder of guardianship, his consent is required. The Department of Home Affairs may insist on the father being present at their offices to give consent.

Can I move with my child without the father’s permission?

If you wish to move to a different province or to a different city within South Africa; technically you do not require the father’s permission unless there is a Court Order stating that you require his consent.

Can I change my child’s last name without the father’s consent?

The Department of Home Affairs would require both parents’ consent. If the child has the father’s surname, you would definitely require the father’s consent. If the mother remarried and wants the child to have the surname of the step-father, and the child currently has a mother’s maiden surname, then in those circumstances the Department of Home Affairs might decide not to persist with the father’s consent if he cannot be found.

Can a mother take a child out of the country without the father’s permission?

This depends on whether or not the father has guardianship rights over the minor child. If the father has guardianship rights over the minor child then, he would require the mother’s consent. Furthermore, the Department of Home Affairs would require the father’s consent before the child may leave the Republic of South Africa if the father has guardianship rights.

Can I take my child overseas without the child’s father’s permission?

If the father has rights of guardianship over the child then you require his permission to take the child out of the Republic of South Africa. This applies whether or not you intend to relocate to another country or you would like to take the child away on a holiday.

Can a mother move a child away from the father in South Africa?

advice-child-maintenance-child-custody-divorceA parent (in this case the mother) has to always act in the child’s best interest. However, under certain circumstances, the mother may have to move to a different province or to another country. Under those circumstances, the court would look at what is best for the minor child. Should the child remain in the province or in the country with the other parent who cannot care for him or her? Obviously not, unless the situation warrants it. Those are the factors that the court would have to look at.

May grandparents take the minor child abroad?

Yes, a grandparent may take a minor child abroad. However, the grandparent would require the consent of both the minor child’s parents if they are both guardians.

Can I get my child a passport without the father’s consent?

In terms of the Children’s Act, both guardians are required to give consent for the minor child’s application for a passport. Therefore, if the father has guardianship rights over the minor child, then his consent is required.

Can a mother terminate a father’s parental rights when she moves overseas?

advice-child-maintenance-child-custody-divorceA mother cannot terminate a father’s parental rights and responsibilities. Even if she moves overseas, she can’t. Only a court of law can do that. However, it is possible under certain circumstances that the father does not have parental responsibilities and rights. In those cases, he can acquire parental responsibilities and rights if he gets involved in the child’s life.


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30 thoughts on “Frequently asked questions regarding relocation and consent when it comes to minor children

  1. Good Day, I am seeking assistance. I have been directed from one professional to another—lawyers, family advocates, and the high court—without getting any clear answers.

    How can I grant guardianship of my 15-year-old daughter, who will be moving to Ireland, to my father who resides there? She has been accepted into a school in Wexford, Ireland, where she will complete high school. Could you please guide me on the correct process to follow? When I visited the Family Advocate in Palm Ridge Court last week, they redirected me to the high court. However, the lawyers I consulted informed me that this is not a high court matter as it is an unopposed motion.

    1. Good day

      You will need a court order to assign guardianship rights to your father. That would entail a court application. We suggest you seek the services of a competent lawyer to do it for you.

  2. People I don’t know what to do

    Me and my ex are 3 years not together anymore

    And my daughter is in my care but the father does not want her to go with me to mosselbay I got a job offer but he does not want her to go with me

    And we were not married

    He has a drinking problem and he has a gun where children can find it

    I’m from mooinooi can someone please give me advice

  3. Good day.
    My daughter’s boyfriend moved in about 9months ago . My granddaughter is very unhappy and finds it difficult to adjust . She has a good relationship with her father . My granddaughter asked me about 2months ago at when can she decide to legally live with me as her grandmother. My daughter s partner informed me a day ago that they are getting married in December and is planning to move to America on a job contract. My granddaughter is devastated. I’m her only grandmother. We have a very close relationship. I shudder to think what the psychological impact on her life would be as she’s already showing signs of an eating disorder. She is 11 years old. Her father doesn’t pay maintenance as agreed. He verbally gave consent for the relocation. I am really concerned about my granddaughter’s psychological well-being. What rights does the child have in this regard?

  4. Hi. I relocated to another province with my minor child about 3 years ago. There was no court order preventing me from doing so. My ex continuosly brings court applications for primary residence of our daughter in his province and I have to keep travelling back and forth to appear at court in the province he resides. This is happenning for the past 3 years, but I am on his 7th court application since my daughter was born. My ex has been trying to change the court order that was made in his province. He came to the high court at my province and failed and then went back to the court at his province and continuously brings urgent applications where he doesnt get his way.My question is..How is it so that the court allows this and does not consider that my child and I live in another province but yet expects me to appear at court and furthermore, Is there no rule or law that can stop a father from bringing continuous cases 8 years?

  5. I stayed in a different town where I opened a maintenance case against the father of my child but now I relocate to where the father stays . In order to opened a case for maintenance what is the procedure

  6. I am stuck in a sticky situation with my ex-partner and this information is very helpful. Thank you for this great article.

  7. I am in process to imigrate to NZ and want to take my child. Her father is not in her life at all for 14 years she is turning 15 next year may. We last had contact with him when he gave premision for her surname to be changed to my husband surname how do i do about takinh her to NZ as i dont even know whete her father is or if he is dead or alive

  8. Hi im ligaly married to my wife for four years and been staying together for eight years and we were blessed with the twince in 2017.This year on July2022 her mother did came all along from OFS with out my concern and instructed my wife to move out of our house go and stay with her sister at her house!On the 05September2022 my wife and her daughter whom is my step daughteer arrived at our house accompanied by police at 22hrs woke up our twince and took them away.Yesterday when i went to visit our twince i learn with great concern that she took them to OFS to stay with their grand mother as she cant look after them because she is working!I have been the gardian of my kids since they were born in 2017 taken care of them now they are not even attending the pre-school anymore realy this realy unfair

  9. Can an unmarried mother relocate to Australia with the child? The father is not on the birth certificate and does not provide any type of support.

  10. Good day. My ex husband has sign consent for me to move to another province but now demands that I pay half of the travelling expenses to see his son. How is responsible for The travelling expenses. Also I don’t feel comfortable for my 8 year old to fly alone.

  11. My children are 7 and 9 and I would like to move home (Zambia) but their father isn’t keen on it and we are divorced. In Zambia I don’t pay rent. We home owners and I have a job waiting for me.

    Their father is Mozambiquen and is in South Africa on their visa. Does this bind us to him in SA?

    If he contests which he did last time and it cost me R90 000 on lawyers in 2017 and I stayed because I gave up. But I really don’t want to stop my life abs growth because of him.

    Any recommendations on lawyers that are experts in immigration and your past advice Please.

  12. My ex moved from Gauteng to Henneman and then to Kroonstad without saying a word to me it’s in another province i found out asking on facebook she also refused me to video call my boy.I went to childrens court in randfontein where he stayed before.the court then phoned her and told her she must allow the video calls what she did for 2weeks and then blocked my calls
    At court their were only one woman and she told me the mother said If I want to see my son I have to get accommodation in kroonstad for a weekend then I can spend time with my son.it’s about the 4th time she moved in with abother man in this year oby. She keep on lying to the court and even if I prove that she not telling the truth her word still are accepted. I want to video call my son and let him come visit me at home like he alway’dId before she moved

  13. I am emigrating to the Isle of Man, my ex husband consents to him coming with me. The UK Home office requires that I have “sole responsibility” of my son, this is not just primary care / custody but guardianship too. My ex-husband and I have applied to the High Court for a variation of our parenting plan giving me sole responsibility (primary care and guardianship) but stipulates contact is to be encouraged and maintained between my son and his dad and I will keep him informed of all relevant information about our son. Considering we are in agreement, will the court readily grant our application?

    1. If the court agrees that it is in the minor child’s best interests, it would so grant the application. Seeing that you are in agreement, the possibility is greater.

  14. I currently have a garnishing order on my salary however I am relocating to another town in South Africa so I have had to resign. I do not have another job yet as I will be searching for work and want to try assist family with their business so I will not be earning a salary for at least the first 3 months. Do I go to maintenance court once I arrive in this other town or do I need to go to the maintenance court in the town I am leaving to advise them of the change

  15. If I want to relocate to a different province, do I need the father’s consent? We have a basic parenting plan that only states that one parent must inform the other if their address changes. Since our split, our now 5-year-old daughter has slept over with him only once. He only makes arrangements to see her once every two to three weeks on a Sunday usually no longer than three hours.

  16. since our divorce in 2015, in which my ex wife and I have joint custody over our daughter and she is given primary residence due to the fact that my daughter was only 5years old and i agreed that my daughter should be with her mother. I have been struggling with my contact rights and parental rights. My ex wife would take my daughter to see a child psychologist with out my consent,
    make decisions regarding our daughter without consulting with me, i was questioned by her parents about whether i could take care of my daughter when she is to visit me on my weekends, at first i was denied contact with daughter for three months.
    to make a long story short, my ex got married again and i was told by her new husband that i will only communicate through him,
    i was denied access to my daughters school by my ex and her husband, i would find out from my daughter that they would go away for a weekend and they would leave her with my ex wife parents or sister instead of letting her stay with me. Anyway this has been going on for the past 5years, MY daughter told me that the new husband grabbed her by the throat one day because they had an argument, UN acceptable I confronted him about this and he said that he was sorry!!!!!! he also wanted me to sign over all my parental rights to my ex and then they will discard the maintenance to my daughter, i refused, i Love my daughter very much, we have an amazing relationship and every time i take her back from a weekends visit with me she is sad and says she doesn’t want to go back. Needles to say my ex is apparently getting divorced again, or so they say…… she moved back in with her parents, her husband has moved to cape town and he has taken his daughter from a previous marriage with him without the mothers consent, now my ex wants to go to a wedding in cape town and wants my daughters original birth certificate from me….. she also asked me not to tell my daughter about it as it is a surprise…… i don’t trust the situation and im afraid that she will take my daughter and stay in cape town with the new husband without my consent, I told my daughter about this situation ( she is 11years old now) and she doesn’t want to go to cape town neither does she want to see the husband ever again. My ex is constantly lying to our daughter about what is actually going on, her parents are constantly involved in our parental matters and so is the new husband. Please i need advise on the situation im in, i have had my own business since 1999 and was very successful, we where married for 10years and my ex wife never worked, my business took a turn for the worst just before our divorce and ever since its been uphill from then, yes i am behind on my child support and we have been to maintenance court and i am paying and doing everything i can to provide. My daughter loves being with me and i can see she is worried about the situation with her mother and the new husband, how to i get around this….. please do you have any advice

  17. If I want to move to another province must I have the fathers consent due to the fact that we have never been married and my sister is helping me find work

    1. Good day
      If there is not court order in place stating that you need his consent, then you do not need it. However it is best to bring it to his attention and discuss how he will exercise contact in the future if there is no court order.

  18. What can I legally do I got a job offer in another province and the father of my child is theathening me that he will get me locked up if I take the job and move to another province . Please note he is not paying me any money and I have not had an income for 5 months . There is no parental contract as yet .

    1. For something like this, it may be best to enlist the services of a lawyer to resolve the issue with the father. Otherwise, we suggest you approach the children’s court if you want something legal on paper.

  19. Good day

    I am relocating to the UK with my child who is a minor. The father has given verbal consent, she also already has a passport. What documentation is further needed from the father.

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